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Never does the what-am-I-going-to-wear dilemma come into play more than when you are pregnant. Your body is changing before your very eyes in ways you didn’t think possible. Things that used to look good—or should look good, or would have looked good—now don’t. Maternity retail shops are overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. And for a lot of us, the sticker shock we suffer as we shop for this mandatory yet temporary clothing throws our omnipresent nausea into overdrive.
Maternity clothes have taken a big step forward in style and modernity over the past decade. A lot of it started with designer Liz Lange and her approach to making maternity clothes look like regular clothes. However, even now, with endless resources for moms-to-be, maternity wear can still be mystifying. And sorry, Liz, but your line for Target leaves a lot to be desired with its ill-fitting sizing and general un-cuteness. Even celebrities with limitless budgets fall prey to bad maternity wear choices.
But there is hope! You are not doomed to 10 months of paneled slacks and printed empire-waste tops. Here are some tips to keep looking great during your pregnancy without investing your unborn babies’ college fund in maternity clothing:
- Look like yourself. This sounds obvious, but sometimes women end up walking out of maternity boutiques with things they would not usually buy. Choose things that you would wear when you aren’t pregnant. Stores like The Gap and Old Navy are great resources for basic, cool maternity clothing that you can tweak to your own style.
- Keep it simple. Nothing looks more perfect on a pregnant woman than her husband’s oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black leggings, great boots or flats, some cool earrings, and fresh lip gloss. How easy was that?
- Focus on fit. This is the hardest part. Because your body is always changing (love Gwyneth Paltrow’s comment about her pregnant body being like something on Discovery Channel), the fit of your clothes is always changing. But, it is the most important thing to pay attention to. If your favorite long-sleeve tee suddenly starts exposing the elastic on your jeans, it’s probably time to stop wearing it solo. You’ll never look your best if you’re constantly struggling with clothes that won’t stay up (too-big maternity pants) or down (too-small maternity shirts).
- Stick to solids. Whether you need a bathing suit or a ball gown, solids are usually a safe maternity bet. Not everyone would agree, as is evident by the endless amount of geometrics, graphics, and florals printed on everything labeled maternity, but solid-colored pieces are generally a good choice for everyone. Think a black turtleneck and great dark jeans paired with fabulous bracelets, shoes, etc.
- Splurge on premium denim. If you want to splurge on something, denim is the place to do it. Premium jeans really do make a difference in fit and appearance, and they will be your go-to look for much of your pregnancy (oh, and probably for a lot of your post-partum days too, but no one ever mentions that part, do they?). Citizens of Humanity, 7 for All Mankind, Hudson, Paige Premium, True Religion, and J Brand all make awesome maternity jeans. Go for dark bootcut or dark skinny and you won’t be sorry. EBay is a great market for getting these goods at seriously discounted prices.
- Pay attention to accessories and grooming. A little extra time spent on these areas goes a long way in completing your pregnancy look. The addition of a statement necklace will make an otherwise-boring tee look custom. And sometimes applying a little more eye makeup or blush, or spending a few more minutes flat-ironing your hair, will give you just the extra polish you need.
- Remember these two words: Forever 21. (Or Forever 31, as we like to call it around here!) This store is a fabulous source for inexpensive, almost disposable clothes that effortlessly double as maternity wear. Look for maxi dresses, tunics, and leggings—the trifecta of modern maternity dressing.
Jessica is a mommy of three. She has a degree in fashion and the equivalent in childproofing a cool modern lifestyle.